TAMPA, Fla. -- The assumption this spring has been that Gustavo Chacin was a long shot to win a job in the Blue Jays' rotation. On Tuesday, Toronto manager John Gibbons said definitively that Chacin isn't considered a candidate at all.
"No, he hasn't been. We knew that," said Gibbons, following the Blue Jays' 6-1 loss to the Yankees at Legends Field.
Chacin took the mound against the Yankees as the Jays' starter and endured a rough outing at the hands of the Bronx Bombers. In a two-inning appearance, the left-hander surrendered four runs on five hits with two walks and no strikeouts, finishing with 36 pitches, including 20 for strikes.
The first four batters that Chacin faced each came around to score -- the last pair on a two-run home run by Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Gibbons said a main issue hindering Chacin right now is velocity, which hasn't been unexpected, considering that the Venezuelan left-hander had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder in August.
"His arm strength is down," Gibbons said about Chacin, who went 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA in five April starts before being sidelined last season. "He has to build his arm back up. He's not throwing really hard, but that's going to come with time. With what he's coming off of, it's going to take a while to build that."
Toronto's rotation currently projects to include Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch. Entering the spring, Litsch, Chacin and Casey Janssen were considered the top candidates for the fifth starter's job. On Tuesday morning, Janssen suffered a left shoulder injury that will sideline the pitcher for an undetermined amount of time.
Janssen's situation instantly makes Litsch, who posted a 3.81 ERA in 20 starts as a rookie with the Jays last season, the favorite for the lone vacancy in the rotation. Chacin began last season as Toronto's No. 3 starter, but the emergence of McGowan and Marcum, combined with Chacin's arm issues, pushed the left-hander down the depth chart.
Chacin still has options, so the Blue Jays can send him to Triple-A Syracuse without needing to clear him through waivers beforehand. In 58 career starts with Toronto, Chacin is 25-15 with a 4.18 ERA. He went 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA as a rookie in 2006, but was limited to just 22 starts over the past two seasons due to various arm issues.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.